Thursday 13 November 2014

What makes a good home inspector?

When you're looking at a list of home inspectors - whether from your agent or from a Google search - and making some calls to see who you feel comfortable using, there are some very basic criteria you'll probably be looking for.

One of the obvious ones is their education and certification. Do they have specific and sufficient education related to inspecting homes or are they just a general contractor moonlighting ion te inspection business?  Do they belong to a professional home inspection association with a published set of standards, both in terms of practice and educational requirements?  While you'll still get a mix, just like in any business, industry-specific education and certification go a long way in ensuring an inspector will know their stuff.

The next obvious one is experience.  Do they have enough experience to put things in context?  An inexperienced home inspector may not be able to adequately judge the seriousness of an issue.  Of course, there is no guarantee, but an inspector who has more than a few inspections under their belt will have seen enough to be able to pick up on things that a brand new inspector might not.

One final point, though, which is not as obvious and somewhat difficult to judge ahead of time is their ability to communicate and explain issues.  If an inspector does not adequately explain just how serious something is or give an idea of what is involved with fixing the problem, then even little issues can be magnified by the human imagination to be very serious and expensive issues.

If you're working with an agent you trust to take care of your best interests, then ask them to recommend a couple of inspectors to call.  After being on an inspection or two with a specific inspector, an agent will have a feel for how well they fit these three general qualities.

(Side note:  if you're not working with an agent you trust to take care of your best interests in recommending an inspector, what on earth are you doing?)

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Do listing photos matter?

Do listing photos matter?  Well, of course they do, right?  Everyone wants to see as many pictures as they can before they go see a house.

From seller perspective, I would definitely agree that pictures matter. Buyers browsing listings on the internet are far more inclined to skip a listing that has only an exterior front shot, so some real estate companies even have an internal policy that they won't accept a listing without a minimum number of interior pictures. 

There are exceptions, of course, such as rental properties with tenants who would prefer not to have their privacy violated with interior pictures including all their belongings.  But other than logical explanations like that, buyers will assume there is some reason you are not including photos, such as poor condition of the interior.

The only thing you have to remember about interior pictures is that they are not likely to sell the house on their own.  Few buyers will put in an offer without seeing a house first, so bear in mind that the intent of any marketing material is to get buyers into the house to make a decision. To that end, quality of pictures matters at least as much as quantity. 

But from a buyer perspective, I would advise some caution in putting too much stock into listing pictures.  While there are not too many situations with really deceptive modifications going on, there is getting to be a lot of "processing" on listing photos.  This can range from simple image quality adjustments or HDR photography to photo-shopping in blue skies because it was a grey and cloudy day when the agent or photographer was at the house.  Some of these photos can appear a bit surreal (to borrow a word actually used by a buyer client of mine).

Have a look at the pictures, but try not to prejudge too firmly- if the listing matches your budget, needs, and wants, go and have a look at it.  You have no idea how many times I have gone on showings with a buyer client and the house we thought best based on the pictures turned out to be the worst, and the worst ended up being the one they loved the most.

Monday 10 November 2014

October 2014 Housing Starts in Hamilton CMA

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 10, 2014) - Housing starts in Hamilton Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) were trending at 3,257 units in October, remaining stable compared to 3,293 units in September, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR)(1) of housing starts.

"While the trend in Hamilton total housing starts remained unchanged in October 2014, strength varied by dwelling type. A tight resale market, with listings of affordable homes in short supply, is encouraging home buyers to buy new. Townhouse starts were up for the sixth consecutive month in October, indicating that those buying in the affordable price ranges are turning to this more affordable ground-oriented home type in the new home market," said Abdul Kargbo, CMHC's Senior Market Analyst for Hamilton and Brantford CMAs.